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Spanish King meets Saudi King amid warship negotiations

Spanish King meets Saudi King amid warship negotiations
16 Jan
8:40

Spain’s King Felipe VI has met with Saudi King Salman amid ongoing negotiations between Madrid and Riyadh over the purchase of Spanish warships.

Felipe met Salman over lunch on Sunday in Riyadh, where the Saudi king decorated him with Saudi Arabia’s highest honor for a foreigner, the cordon of King Abdul Aziz.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, mutual relations and furthering their development “in various fields” were discussed between the two kings.

Felipe began his three-day tour of the kingdom on Saturday following an invitation by Salman. Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis and Public Works Minister Inigo de la Serna are accompanying him during his trip.

A handout picture released by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (C-R) walking with Spanish King Felipe VI (C-L) in Riyadh on January 15, 2017, during a visit coinciding with talks to sell Spanish warships.

The Spanish and Saudi royal families have maintained an exceptionally close relationship for several years which has led to closer economic ties between the two countries.

Reports have linked the trip to a prospective contract to sell Avante 2200 corvettes, which can be equipped with missile systems and helicopter launch pads, for an estimated $2.1 billion.

Front view of the Avante 2200 Combatant. (Photo courtesy of Navantia Official thru Flickr)

“We can only confirm that negotiations are very advanced to build five warships which would be sold to the Saudi navy,” said a spokesman for state-owned Spanish ship builder Navantia on Sunday.

Spain is the world’s seventh largest arms exporter, and Riydah is one of the biggest buyers of military gear and is under fire by various international rights groups for its deadly war against Yemen.

The Saudi war on Yemen, which has reportedly killed at least 11,400 Yemenis, was launched in March 2015 in an unsuccessful attempt to reinstate the former government. It has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools and factories.

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